Author: Kathryn Watson

Product Liability Law Explained


In the US, defective products are among the leading causes of injuries. The statistics are very alarming. Surprisingly, a majority of the offenders go unpunished since a good number of the consumers do not understand the law.

The product liability law is designed to make it easy for the consumers to be compensated for using a defective product. By definition, Product Liability refers to the legal responsibility placed on the manufacturer or distributor of a defective product.

The law focuses on consumer protection. It’s there to ensure that what the consumers use is not harmful and meets all the safety standards. If not, the seller together with the manufacturer is held liable for the harm caused.

To properly understand the basics, here is the product liability law explained in details:

The Theories of Product Liability

Product liability is based on three theories, and the complainant is expected to use any of them when pushing for compensation.

  • Negligence: This theory focuses on the failures of the manufacturer or the seller to be reasonably careful. It’s either they failed to do something to guarantee the safety of the product or they did something that contributed to the product’s defectiveness. Other than the manufacturer and the immediate seller, other parties within the chain of distribution can be considered negligent.
  • Breach of Warranty: Between the seller and the consumer, there exists an agreement which can either be documented or verbal (express warranty) or unspoken and undocumented (implied warranty) that guarantees the product’s safety. If the product is proven harmful, then the seller is said to have breached the warranty, and should be held liable for the injuries sustained by the consumer.
  • Strict Liability:  In strict liability, the business that manufacturers the defective product is held responsible for the harm regardless of the care they took to guarantee its safety. It doesn’t matter if it’s not the manufacturer’s fault. Provided that the consumer can prove that the use of the product is the reason behind the injury, the theory comes into full effect and the manufacturer will be forced to bear the liabilities.

The Parties Liable

Other than the manufacturer and the immediate seller of the product, the consumer can hold any of the parties involved in the chain of distribution responsible for the harm caused by the product. They include:

  • The party responsible for assembling the product
  • The party responsible for installing the product
  • The wholesaler of the product

Types of Defects

In all the three theories of the product liability law explained above, the consumer has to prove that the injury is due to a defect found in the product. There are generally three categories of product defects:

  • Design Liability: This defect exists before the product is manufactured or assembled. It can be something in the formula that is unsafe to the consumer.
  • Manufacturing Defect:  This is a problem that occurs during the manufacturing. It may be the use of low-quality materials or uncertified ingredients.
  • Marketing Liability: This problem affects the marketing chains, and may be improper labeling, lack of safety warnings, or inadequate instructions on the packaging.

So, it’s imperative that you are specific about the product defect that directly caused your injuries. This will make it easier for you to recover the damages.

Final Thoughts

The product liability law explained here is helpful to all consumers. Whether you are the victim or you know someone who suffers an injury due to a product they used, you have the ground to hold the offender responsible. If you’ve proof of the product’s defectiveness, you should go ahead and consult a top injury law firm to help you file the claim.

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